Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) deputy president Brian Rushe has called for the maximum pay-out of this year’s farm schemes.
Brian Rushe pointed out that for many farmers, direct payments represent more than 100% of income and that in any delay in payments would mean financial repercussions for farmers.
The IFA has urged the Department to put alternative arrangements in place for farmers who normally attend the very important clinics at the Department of Agriculture stand at the Ploughing, which didn’t take place due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“The Department committed to putting in more resources through a dedicated telephone service with extended hours to help farmers who have any queries on their payment status,” he said.
Rushe said that given the difficulties that can arise around online applications and the postponement of clinics, every effort must be made to issue all payments that are due.
He insisted that it was important that any pre-payment queries are addressed, as many issues can be resolved over the phone.
This is very important, as payments have been held up in the past
Rushe commented: “The Department must pull out all the stops and make a strong case to the [European] Commission to pay farmers whose files are selected for inspection their advance payment on 18 October,” he said.
“This was delivered in 2020 following intense lobbying by [the] IFA and it’s unacceptable that it doesn’t apply for 2021 and beyond.
“This is very important, as payments have been held up in the past because the inspection had not taken place or hadn’t gone through the administrative process,” Rushe added.
In relation to the Land Parcel Identification Scheme (LPIS) review, Rushe stressed that where digitising is required, it cannot hold up payments.
The IFA will not tolerate the delays which were caused by the LPIS review in the past, he said.
IFA rural development chair Michael Biggins welcomed the commencement of ANC payments, which is in line with previous years.
Eighty-five percent payment has been issued to 85,000 farmers whose land area has been cleared and have met the minimum stocking, said Biggins
The Department confirmed that there will be twice-weekly payment runs to pay ANC payments to farmers as they meet the required stocking rates.
The remaining 15% payment will be issued in early December.
Up to 100,000 will qualify for ANC payments in 2021, worth up to €250m.
Biggins reiterated to the Department the need to pay as many farmers as possible when the advance BPS payment is due from 18 October. The balancing 30% payment will be made on 1 December.
Beef scheme payments under BEEP-S and BDGP will commence in December.
IFA livestock chair Brendan Golden said the viability of suckler farms is heavily reliant on meaningful support payments and this money must be paid on time.
IFA sheep chair Sean Dennehy welcomed the Department’s intention to provide 2017 as the new reference year for the Sheep Welfare Scheme (SWS), with flexibilities, and 2019 as the reference year for new entrants to the original scheme.
“It’s important this is finalised in the coming weeks and farmers are informed of their new scheme numbers.
"The advance SWS payments will issue in mid-November. The payment is vital for the sector which heavily depends on direct payments,” said Dennehy.